To provide a productive therapeutic environment, therapists are trained to "meet people where they're at."
That means accepting a client and their struggle regardless of how alienating the specifics may be. That acceptance allows a safe space to form where the client can verbalize their feelings and responses, and understand their internal states more closely.
But therapists are humans.
Sure, they're ideally well-trained humans especially skilled at noticing certain thought patterns and human tendencies. That said, they do have knee-jerk initial responses to the people around them.
They then mindfully work around those responses to continue to provide good care. But nonetheless, the occasional moment of shock does come about every now and then.
Judging the Context
"Therapist here. To piggy back on what others have said, it is highly unlikely for me to have moments where I judge my clients."
"It happens sometimes, but I'm able to shut down those thoughts quickly in my head and return to being present for the people I see."
"People are so incredibly complex that my judgment wouldn't have any meaning anyway and it doesn't have a place in our work together."
"I will admit though, something that does get me feeling a little salty is when I have a client's parent that attempts to sabotage the therapeutic relationship I have with their child..."
"...or pulling them out of therapy entirely when some of the things we talk about challenges some potentially unhealthy family dynamics."
"I don't feel anger toward the parents, mostly I feel bad for the kid."
Out of His Wheelhouse
"When I was under age, I got caught with a drink on bourbon street and got a minor in possession."
"I was telling my therapist about it, and said that the police caught me with a 'hand grenade' in New Orleans."
"He didn't realize that a hand grenade was a type of drink, and it was funny to watch him try to process that his patient might have just casually told him that he had been caught with a fragmentation grenade."
"He took a big long pause, and said, 'where did you even find a grenade?'"
"I realized the misunderstanding quickly and corrected him. But for a moment he definitely was thinking 'holy sh** how do I deal with this?'"
Sometimes, it's Just Too Much
"I'll never judge someone, especially someone who has come to me hurting. The world is full of a**holes already."
"That said, I found out while I was still doing internships that I'm very uncomfortable working with abusers, so I don't do it."
"It took one recount of a man describing in detail how he was strangling his wife up against a wall and making her look at the beam he was gonna hung her from."
"I got out of the office and told my supervisor I just couldn't do it. (It's worth mentioning, I was just an observer back then, I didn't act as the therapist, my supervisor was."
"She wanted me to be prepared to work not only with victims, but with victimisers as well)"
Don't Get Pulled In
"Actual therapist here. I get moments like that sometimes, but by the next session, I've usually reached a place where I'm more ashamed of myself for judging than I am surprised by my client."
"For example, people with symptoms of borderline personality disorder can really elicit reactions like that for me."
"One day they might be saying that they really value someone's friendship, and the next they might be ready to cut that person out of their lives completely over a disagreement."
"Or they'll be working on expressing more emotions one day, and the next day "I'm never talking about my feelings again."
"My first (internal) reaction is usually 'Dude, what??'"
"But then I take a step back and remember that this type of behavior is the exact problem they're trying to solve. And that there's probably really important experiences that shaped them to respond in this way."
"Okay, real therapist here. I got one. Some of my clients are SHOCKINGLY BAD at giving themselves credit, holy sh**!!"
"Like they might get a nearly straight A GPA in a brutal major while battling depression, or overcome years of phobia and get behind the wheel again, or write a literal novel..."
"...or raise a kid as a single parent with low income, or build new relationships after being burned, or cope with OCD well enough to hold down a job."
"And they'll talk about themselves as if everyone on earth is better than them, as if their accomplishments are worthless."
"And I know it's because of depression or anxiety or another condition, but I'm often stunned by how differently I see them compared to how they see themselves."
More of an Ongoing Concern
"Not a judgment - you kind of train your brain not to judge, because you are seeking to understand and help. When you do those things, you can't simultaneously judge."
"We could all use a little more of that in real life, I suppose."
"I'll share this though. I do feel concerned about this recent phenomenon of young people I worked with self-diagnosing, sharing, and identifying very closely with mental illness..."
"...as if the pendulum quickly swung from 'never, ever share your feelings' to 'OMG, you're depressed? All of us are too!'"
"Life's challenges can be tough and they don't need a scientific-sounding label to be valid and real. You are not your diagnosis. We can find validation and support in healthier ways."
Not Judging, but Stunned
"I'm a licensed psychologist and I'll tell you I've never judged my patients. The world is so full of judgement and it's my job to objectively look at someone who's suffering and offer them empathy and a path towards healing."
"The one thing I've judged is the situations that people survive and continue to live their lives."
"I've worked with torture survivors, survivors of genocide and famine. I've worked with people whose entire villages were wiped out because a war lord wanted the water well that was sitting in the town."
"It always gives me pause in terms of the anguish some people face and their resilience. So if I have one message, it would be in the words of RJ Palacio, 'Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle.'"
"Well, I quit my last therapist because I made him cry uncontrollably. He tried not to, but he just couldn't hold it back. I felt guilty and won't see him anymore."
"I think he may have lost a child before. I described watching my aunt grieve over her son's body. I felt so much pain losing him, but was explaining how watching my aunt was dramatically worse."
"The details about her is what made him lose it. I could tell he was reliving something inside his own head."
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Ah, massages. This very legitimate therapeutic technique has been around for nearly as long as human beings.
But now it's been co-opted by so much erotica and so many movies that it seems to constantly provided weirdo creeps with a place to actualize their fantasies.
Real life massage therapists have plenty of run-ins with said weirdo creeps. PSA: happy ending massages are NOT to be expected. Sex work does not equal therapeutic medical techniques.
GLAM IS NOT DEAD
We usually leave the room to let the clients strip down into underwear before we commence, but with this guy I had no chance to get away. Before I had time to give him a towel he dropped his pants to reveal a sparkling blue G-string that barely kept everything in place. The guy was about 58, huge beer gut, grey hair, gold earring, and hairy like Robin Williams.Giphy
Pay Me My Money
At the end of the third session as I was massaging his neck while hes on his back he just started pleasuring ghimself. I was kind of shocked in the moment and didn't know what to do. I stood up and said I have to go. Was fairly awkward waiting for him to get dressed so i could pack my table and get my money and leave.Giphy
Gonna Need a Bigger Wad Than That
One day this male client books a massage for himself with our male therapist, Ed.
This fu**er flips over, hands Ed a wad a cash from who knows where saying "That's for you," and starts to pleasure himself off. Ed promptly said "Alright your appointment is done they'll take care of you at the front desk" and books it out of there. Dude pays leaves with no problem.Giphy
A Happy Ending Rejection Play-By-Play
The conversation goes like this:
Creepy dude: "You do happy ending?"
CD: "Why not?"
Me: "Because that's disgusting and unprofessional."
CD: "I pay extra"
Me: "We're done here."
Taking Liberties, Are We?
My wife and I were at a small resort in Costa Rica. This time we decided to get a couple's massage.
The time came to do my butt, she moved the towel down and started working my cheeks. Then the inside of my cheeks, which I thought was odd, but I'm new to this massage world and maybe that's what a deep tissue was. At this time I'm starting to feel, not relaxed but insecure. I suddenly become aware of my wife next to me who sounds more then relaxed.
Meanwhile back at my butt, she was really doing the inside of the cheeks well. I had hoped this was the last spot she would do, the last thing I want is butt cheek sweat rubbed all over my body. Then started to press down on my actual anus. I felt pressure building up behind her thumb. I clench, and I clench like I never have before. I spin around and say very politely thank you for the massage.
Whatever Gets You Goin'
Someone I know (they are female) said that while doing a Brazilian wax on a male he climaxed. She just wiped it up and remained professional. Idk how
Those eyes. Those EYES.
This one dude though kept folding the sheet down to just under his nipples. I would keep moving him and adjusting the sheet but he would eventually fold it back down. The edge of the sheet perfectly underlined his nipples and I just kept getting distracted by them... they were like 2 eyes staring at me.
(Grossest Thing I've Heard In Days)
One day she had a guy in his late 30's early 40's come in for a back massage. When he took off his shirt, his back was literally blackhead central. Like there wasn't one spot in which he DIDN'T have a blackhead, and her hand was slathered in gross juice and pus when she tried to massage him. She just gave up after that.
Welp, Everything Seems To Be In Order Here
Well one day I receive a call from a man asking if im available. He said he would like a massage at his office in the middle of downtown.
After 30mins, I started to get a sense that something is off. I would glide my hands to more intimate areas but he keep talking casually. Most guys would pop a tent, or ask to be massaged near their groin. But he was talking about his wife and daughters.
Then starting going on about his relationship with this guy and how they have a very strong friendship and that they would constantly prank each other.
This guy thinks this a legit massage! This was suppose to be a prank that somehow got way to advance without any party knowing. Hence, why I'm in the middle of a tech office and he is so non chalant about everything.
Therapy is sacred, and it's something we can all benefit from. So it's aggravating when people take advantage of the mental heath process. Those who can maneuver the system ruin it all. Some therapists must have some great stories about the people who have taken advantage.
Redditor.... Unknown wanted to hear from the mental health community by asking.... Therapists of reddit, what are have been the most manipulative things done by incredibly difficult patients?
Joining a therapy group or seeing someone one-on-one is an open admission you need help. That's perfectly fine, as seeking assistance in life's problems is an extremely positive act you can do for yourself. On the other side of that relationship, you have a therapist who, hopefully, wants to help you. For whatever reason, it doesn't always work out. You can't crack through, or you can't figure it out, and you can only hope to find help through other means.
Reddit user, u/Ate10, wanted to know:
Who's that one patient you couldn't help? Tell us all about it!